Will Acrylic Paint Stick to Wood?

Perhaps you have an old wooden patio chair that needs a little sprucing up. Using acrylic paint, you can create a fun art project and give your wooden patio chair the decoration it needs simultaneously!

But one of the first things you may be asking yourself before beginning is, “Will acrylic paint stick to wood?”

Acrylic paint can stick to wood as it is, but your painting will not look that great if it isn’t prepared properly. Certain types of wood can absorb the paint, making the coating uneven and blotchy. Additionally, your painting will be more susceptible to peeling, cracking, and chalking over time.

Read below to get the answers to a few more questions pertaining to using acrylic paint on wood. 

Can You Paint Acrylic Directly on Wood?

You can paint directly onto the wood. To get the best results, apply the paint in thin coats, allowing each layer to dry in between.

You also have to be sure the wooden object you are painting is clean and completely dry when applying the paint. Otherwise, it will crack or peel off. 

Remember that using acrylic paint on an absorbent wood will dry typically one to two shades darker than what is in the container.

Can You Paint Directly on Stained Wood? 

You can paint over stained wood as long as you do well with preparing the surface. You will need to remove any other varnishes or sealants before painting over it. 

You can do that with sandpaper, usually 150 grit. If the wood is really rough, you’ll have to sand it more to get to the needed smoothness and cleanliness.

Be sure to wipe it down with a cloth to remove the sanding dust before moving to primer or paint to help leave your finish smooth. 

Is Acrylic Paint Best for Wood?

Acrylic paint is known to do well on wood as long as you prep it well before painting and sealing well once done. This type of paint is also known to be the less expensive route to go. You also have the choice of a spray-on or a brush-on version. 

Acrylic lacquer is also a good choice for woods. Since it dries clear, it’s really great for lighter-colored woods such as pine.

Will Acrylic Paint Last on Wood Outside?

Acrylic paints work really well for outdoor items. You can use it to paint tables, other furniture, birdhouses, and planters, to name a few. If applied correctly, the paint could last as long as 5-10 years before needing to repaint.  

Read on to see tips for making the paint last. 

Does Acrylic Paint on Wood Need to Be Sealed?

Using a sealer is extremely important when you are painting wood with acrylic paint. Sealants help protect your item from things such as water, sun and wear and tear. 

You can use a sealant before painting to fill in the wood’s pores and after to keep the paint from chipping and peeling. 

How Do You Seal Acrylic Paint on Wood?

So, now you know that you need to seal your wood before and after painting on it, how can you do this? Let’s take a look below.


Below is a list of materials you will need when applying the sealant that you’ve chosen:

  • Washcloth
  • Dropcloth to place under item being sealed
  • Sandpaper
  • Sponge or paintbrush
  • Sealant 

Please note: Using a clear sealer is the best way to seal paint placed on wood.


So how do you decide which sealant to use? Here are the basic steps for finishing acrylic paint on wood:

  • Step 1: Choose a polycrylic sealant (wax-based) or an oil-based varnish. Oil-based is the most durable finish and tends to surpass most other finishes in protection from water and heat. 
  • Step 2: Apply it using a sponge, paintbrush, or dry cloth.
  • Step 3: Add a second coat once the first dries. (It usually takes 2-3 weeks for the sealant to fully cure, so treat the wood extra gently until then).

Be sure to follow any directions listed on the sealant you choose carefully for the best results. Keep reading for more information on which type and finish you would want.

Sealant Vs. Varnishes

There isn’t a whole lot of difference between a sealant and a varnish, except that one is made to protect and one is made for making things look smooth and shiny. However, both create a barrier against the elements.

Sealant is material used for sealing something to make it airtight or watertight. At the same time, Varnish is a resin dissolved in a liquid for applying on wood, metal, or other materials to form a hard, clear, shiny surface when dry.

Continue to read about types of both. 

Different Types of Sealants

These are the different types of sealants:

Resin VarnishGlossy
Modge PodgeDries clear
LacquerDries clear and glossy

Now that we know about the different types of sealants let’s move on to varnishes.

Different Types of Varnishes

These are the different types of varnishes:

SatinSubdued shiny
MatteNot shiny

Now that we know about sealants versus varnishes let’s see the best finishes for wood.

Best Finishes for Wood

Although results can vary based on the amount of prep, type of wood, and which of the elements your wooden item sees most, the sealants listed below have been known to be some of the top choices:

  1. TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish
  2. General Finishes High-Performance
  3. Rustoleum Marine Spar Varnish

Be sure to research them a bit more to pick the exact right one for your project.


It is best to seal your wooden items before and after using acrylic paint. If you do this before, let dry very well, then paint and reapply the sealant; you will get the best results.

If you do so, your beautifully painted wooden items will look vibrant and new for many years to come. 


What is the best sealer for acrylic paint on wood? (askinglot.com)

Best Wood Varnish – Your Guide for Perfect Wood Finishes (woodhappen.com)


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